$45 Hisilicon Hi3535 Based Network Video Recorder Board Comes with HDMI, VGA, Dual SATA, GbE, and USB 3.0 Ports

Network Video Recorder (NVR) boards allow you to record videos from IP cameras to a SATA drive, and display them in a mosaic for monitoring & security. One of such boards is XiongMai NBD7024T-P powered by a Hisilicon Hi3535 dual core Cortex A9 processor, and featuring Gigabit Ethernet, SATA, and USB 3.0 interfaces, on top of HDMI and VGA video output and stereo audio output. With such features, this type of board could likely be re-purposed for other applications, such as a NAS setup too,and they are fairly inexpensive going for $45 including shipping on Aliexpress.

Click to Enlarge

NBD7024T-P NVR board specifications:

  • SoC –  Hisilicon Hi3535 dual core Cortex A9 processor @ 1.0 GHz
  • System Memory – 4Gbit (512MB) RAM
  • Storage – 2x SATA ports up to 8TB each, maybe some SPI flash for firmware
  • Video Output – 1x HDMI, 1x VGA
  • Audio Output – 2x RCA jacks for stereo audio
  • Video Input (IP) – 8x @ 5M, 16x @ 4M, 32x (24fps), 16x, 8x @ 1080p, 32x @ 960p, 16x @ 720p up to 192 Mbps bandwidth
  • Video & Audio Compression – H.264, G.711A
  • Display & Playback “Quality” – 1280×1080 max display resolution, playback: 5M/4M 1080p/960p/720p
  • Video Preview – 1/4/8/16/24/32
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet port + 4ch WiFi ???
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 port, 1x USB 3.0 port
  • Misc – RTC battery, some expansion headers
  • Power supply – 12V/4A
  • Power Consumption – <10W (without HDD)
  • Dimensions – 164mm x 80mm
  • Weight – ~130g
  • Temperature Range – 0°C-+55°C
  • Humidity – 10%-90% RH

You can use the built-in interface shown above, a Windows based CMS app, XMeye mobile app to manage the video streams, or any ONVIF compliant apps. The board is said to run some kind of embedded Linux distributions. The seller of the board on Taobao, also “sells” the SDK for various Hisilicon processors for 5 RMB. But since the name of the SDK is shown a search for Hi3535_V100R001C01SPC020 led me to that direct link on baidu where it looks like you can download it for free, until you find out the archive is password protected… The SDK is said to be based on Linux 3.14, and you’d have to use this, since I could not see any activity about Hi3535 in LKML.

HiSilicon Hi3535 Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

The manufacturer of the board is Hangzhou XiongMai Technology, and you can find a product brief here. If you find $45 is too high for your use case, some cheaper 4-channel NVR boards based on HiSilicon Hi3520D ARM Cortex A9 processor @ 660 MHz can be found for about $17 shipped with Fast Ethernet, one SATA 2.0 interface, and HDMI & VGA output.

HiSilicon Hi3535 processor sells for about $8 in quantities, so in case software support is acceptable, and HiSilicon helps with the release of the SDK, it might be possible to make low cost boards for headless applications. It still remains to be seen how SATA, Ethernet, and USB 3.0 interfaces perform on the processor.

Thanks to Jon for the tip.

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willy
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willy

That seems like the cheapest USB3+SATA+GBE board around. We don’t yet know anything about the performance, but others in this price range cannot even provide the connectivity regardless of the performance.

The design is surprizing, not using solid capacitors nor flat coils. For the price we can’t demand too much but seeing this board reminded me the hardware we were using 10 years ago and made me realize that things have changed since 🙂

Mike Schinkel
Guest

@willy
Definitely. And that $17 board is cheapest SATA board around. Wonder if Armbian supports it?

Member

I’m waiting for the Armbian port!

SDK will probably have source for everything except the h.264/5 support. I have the Hisilicon SDK for their camera chips and that’s what is in it.

Member

After we get Armbian! maybe the PI people will make a version with better connectors and expose both GbE ports.

I suspect performance is quite good. Hisilicon (part of Huawei) is a better silicon vendor than Allwinner. You don’t put dual GbE, dual SATA, PCIe and USB 3.0 onto a light weight bus.

Hisilicon makes the Kirin SOCs.

Member

This chip also has the hardware needed to transcode broadcast TV in real-time from MPEG2 to h.264 so that you can stream it.

Hoangdinh86
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Hoangdinh86

I have NVR with same hardware Hi3535 gigabit ethernet and usb3.0. Hope we have Armbian port soon

ovi
Guest
ovi

@john Smirl

you sure can support hardware transcode from mpeg2 to h264?

hoangdinh86
Guest
hoangdinh86

@cnxsoft
Tonight I will check my board and try to connect via telnet, ssh

FransM
Guest
FransM

at the time I write this they have an offer for that 4 ch hisilicon nvr board for $13.60; lasts still one hour. support for linux seems mostly absent so i decided to skip. (shipping to NL would have been $ 3.65)

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

No schematics available, no documentation, no sources, obviously zero support by the vendor. Looks like a SinoVoip product. No thanks. 😉

mdel
Guest
mdel

looking at that block diagram i tried to look up some AMBA Bus specifications and found that nice document comparing AMBA 2 vs AMBA 3 with use cases (there’s also newer AMBA4 bus for cortex A7/A15) :

http://rtcgroup.com/arm/2007/presentations/179%20-%20Comparative%20Analysis%20of%20AMBA%202.0%20and%20AMBA%203%20AXI%20Protocol-Based%20Subsystems.pdf

It’s not quite clear how the master/slave bandwidth is shared and it would depend how it was implemented in the soc, but the data rates are quite high (400MHz 32Bits = 12.8Gbps / bus)

The Dex
Guest

I think the “best bet” would be to try and find a serial port (header) – used for debugging, usually – and start from there.

Also, be careful: some of these devices (actually, the software on them) where some of the ones responsible for the MIRAI botnet / DDoS attack last year.

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

The Dex :
I think the “best bet” would be to try and find a serial port (header) – used for debugging, usually – and start from there.

Why? Still no schematics available, no documentation, no sources, obviously zero support by the vendor. There’s somewhere on the Internet a 700 MB password protected Hi3535_V100R001C01SPC020.rar said to be a ‘Linux SDK’ for this thing. How many GPL violations are contained? How much stuff you would have to remove until you’re able to publish any work based on this ‘SDK’ (since if you publish something you become the GPL violator)? From which media does this thing boot and how to influence this (if there’s some documentation contained in the above archive I doubt it’s in english)? How does performance of Gigabit Ethernet, SATA and USB3 look like? Does someone really expect to see ‘PC performance’ here?

Since below €150 but above €22 this thing requires my paying VAT so I end up with a paperweight for around €50 while at the same time an ESPRESSOBin costs just €10 more (and if I need two more really performant SATA ports there I simply spend another €15 and add an ASM1062 card). Even if a developer is masochistic enough to work himself through all the hassles at least once he’s ready to provide a Linux image without legal issues and being able to be flashed by NOOBs this thing will be phased out and replaced with something totally incompatible. Sounds like one of the most stupid ways to waste your own time.

No schematics available, no documentation, no sources, obviously zero support by the vendor. Easy to decide.

Member

There is a pinout for all of the connectors in the Taobao listing. UART is on CN1 pins 7/8.

Hilsilion is a division of Huawei, they are far more competent than Allwinner. This is the same group that makes the Kirin SOCs. You can get real support for this but to get it you have to pay for the SDK. Last I asked they wanted about $10,000. But for that $10K they will help with design and software issues. The legal situation is identical to Allwinner.

The taobao version also appears to include the SDK. I have the Hisilicon SDK for another series of their chips, it is in decent shape. The SDK will contain reference schematics. These boards never deviate much from the reference designs.

The idea here is to poke at this board enough to evaluate its performance. If performance is as good as it appears, then we encourage one of the colored PI vendors to make a more suitable board.

Member

I would not write off mainline support so quickly. This exact chip is not in mainline but the Hi3660 is in mainline with official vendor support. More than we can say for Allwinner. Hisilicon is a top tier Linaro member too. If we start a push for this chip Hisilicon might surprise us and actually help.

Member

I found the Hi3536 SDK, there are only minor differences with the HI3535. Like adding h.265 support and 4K output.
https://sourceforge.net/projects/hisi/files/SDK/Hi3536/

I am on a slow link, another hour until I have it downloaded and can check if there is password.

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

@Jon Smirl
Now that’s a different story than ‘Bring Armbian to a video recorder’ (which will most probably not work at all given there’s no SD card slot and the onboard flash way too small to fit a bloated full Debian or Ubuntu).

Currently reading through ‘Hi3536 V100R001C01SPC020 Performance Test Report.pdf’ from your Sourceforge link…

Member

Here’s what I think is going on, the Hi3536 has h.265 support. That cuts the needed disk space in half. So demand has shifted from the Hi3536 from the Hi3535.

Current prices: Hi3536 SOC — $35, Hi3535 SOC — $8
hi3535 PCB $90, Hi3535 PCB $40.

So Hi3535 is really a $35 CPU but the new version destroyed demand for it and prices fell — a lot.

Member

@tkaiser

Flash may just boot the OS off from the disk. Something like USB boot would be used to initially get it onto the disk. Similar to how a PC works.

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

@Jon Smirl
So Hi3535 will most probably phased out soon and Hi3536 is still quite expensive.

I looked a little bit through the docs. Very good first impression both wrt hardware features (TCP/IP Offloading engine or even a XOR/RAID accelerator) and how the stuff is written (eg. explanations how to benchmark stuff and in the FAQ there’s even ‘average load on Linux’ explained… correctly!). It seems the SoCs are only supposed to work with raw NAND flash and I feel I should concentrate better on two other chip vendors after giving up on Allwinner completely after their most recent ‘tinalinux’ code drop. That’s Marvell and Rockchip currently.

Member

I suspect there are 100,000 or more hi3535 sitting in Shenzhen chip vendors. These are high volume products made by the millions. I don’t think supply will run out any time soon.

Marvell is extremely unfriendly to smaller vendors. Marvell’s corporate philosophy is to be your second vendor. So after you prove the market on the first round with another vendor, Marvell then comes in and pitches you to go with them for the second round with high volumes. They actively do not want smaller players and they don’t want third party dev boards around.

Rockchip is a smaller version of Allwinner. They are trying, but they are small.

Hisilicon/Huawei is a giant company. Hisilicon has excellent documentation and they are somewhat open source friendly. Not much effort has been made in getting cheap Hisilicon dev boards to market. In general Hisilicon chips are significantly more expensive than Allwinner, but they are also better than Allwinner. Hilsilicon is using 16nm FF for some CPUs, far beyond where Allwinner is.

That Kirin 960 in the Hikey dev board is around $100 for the chip. But it is a super high end chip competitive with top of the line Exynos.

xxiao
Guest
xxiao

these were sold a _lot_ for surveillance market thus it’s cheap, I have it here sitting idle for almost a year, the SDK is illegal and you will not get any support

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

@Jon Smirl
Well, maybe it’s just the usual ‘use case’ question. My ARM journey started few years ago searching for small, inexpensive but energy efficient ‘servers’ back then naively fascinated by ‘thing with SATA and GbE’. Got that (original Banana Pi with Allwinner A20), tested and was disappointed just to learn later that better looking specs of another ‘thing with SATA and GbE’ (Banana Pi M3 with Allwinner A83T) could make it even worse (the ‘SATA’ there scores at 15/30 MB/s write/read).

Few years later I’m now where I wanted to be back in 2013. With Rockchip’s RK3328 I get ‘single disk NAS performance’ comparable to any Gigabit Ethernet x86 box out there starting at $25 currently and with Marvell’s offers I get even better multi disk performance and even ECC DRAM (data integrity). The SoCs are fast enough for containerization and the 64-bit ARMv8 variants are even good for virtualization while also showing excellent AES performance. That’s all I need and for the other 2 use cases I’m interested in (IoT and IP camera stuff) there are already enough offers below $10 (Allwinner H2+/H3, RDA, even the lame Broadcom chip on Rasperries does it).

I’ll focus now on what I wanted to do in the first place with these ARM thingies instead of more ‘board bring up’ adventures 😉 But you’re absolutely right, after looking through the SDK contents I agree that Hisilicon is a different league. Might be fun to play with after someone else did the groundwork 🙂

Member

@tkaiser

If you are getting into IP cameras that field is dominated by the Hisilicon Hi3516 (1080p) and Hi3518 (720p). They are probably larger than everyone else combined. Output from those cameras ends up in a NVR (network video record) based on boards like these. SDK for those two chips looks identical to the one you have with adjustments for the different silicon. I think someone removed some of the PDFs that are normally in the SDK from that H3536 SDK copy. Normally there are like 50 PDFs in a Hisilicon SDK.

The trouble with Marvell is that you can buy boards with their chips, but forget about making your own boards. They pretty much don’t want you doing that. I have spoken with their top management. Marvell specifically wants a few very large customers, they do not want any small ones. Then for those large customers they will even customize the silicon if needed. The downside to this — there can be brutal price wars fighting over these high volume customers.

Releasing a low cost dev board based on Hisilicon is virgin territory. AFAIK none exist. But I don’t think Hisilicon is trying to suppress it, I just don’t think that people have considered using NVR chips as NAS servers. That is pretty impressive GbE performance. They maintained 1.65Gb/s full duplex over the dual ports. Disk speed is likely the limitter in any system built around Hi3535. That PCIe port was designed for an SSD.

martonmiklos
Guest

@Jon Smirl
Hi Jon,
May I ask you what version of SDK do you have?
If I bet well it is for the Hi3518 series right?

Member

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-xXk60rAAO9amgtUmhSc0h2Ykk/view
Hi3518E V200R001C05SPC050

I would love it if someone could get it to transmit in WebRTC format instead of RTP.

This is Linux webrtc source, needs to be ported for sensor input and h.264 engine.
https://webrtc.org/native-code/development/

theguyuk
Guest
theguyuk

If you look on Aliexpress there are Hisilicon NVR with 8+ sata at around £75- £80. I noticed on ipcamtalk, a few people have bricked a couple of boards trying own firmware. But updating existing firmware seems to work. As someone already mentioned these boards are rebranded all over Aliexpress and Internet.

mm
Guest
mm

@Jon Smirl
Thanks Jon! Which tool do you use for building the rootfs? I have recently came across this buildroot:
https://github.com/hi35xx/hi35xx-buildroot
But I have not had a time to play with it yet.

xxiao
Guest
xxiao

@Jon Smirl
without looking into the spec I remember it is just SATA2 I think, enough for NVR but not enough for other uses.

Member

@xxiao
Hi3535 is 6Gb/s SATA 3.0

mm – I am not working with the Hi3518, another group is working on it. I did replace the buildroot in the Grain SDK with current build root a while ago. It was not hard to do. Get WebRTC running on it and I know someone who is trying to buy the code needed to to do that.

Prachi
Guest

Hi,
I want to buy a Hi3518 development board. Where can I buy it from?

mrcoolgli
Guest
mrcoolgli

This is the chipset inside of my zmodo. The performance is decent. I would easily spend 45 bucks to free myself from zmodo.

aasi
Guest
aasi

hi there
i’ve Hi3535 7000T NVR but it don’t detect more than one camera
if i plug mouse and usb in usb port, the NVR hangs.
anyone have solution ???

if someone have it’s firmware update kindly post the link

Best Regards